50 years of the USSR through the eyes of Vsevolod Tarasevich (PHOTOS)

Vsevolod Tarasevich/MAMM/MDF
During his long professional career that spanned the 1940s to the 1990s, the master lensman captured all facets of Soviet life: the horrors of war, the joys of peace, new professions, large construction projects, and much more besides.

Vsevolod Tarasevich at work in Leningrad, 1942
Vsevolod Tarasevich at work, 1967

It is hard to imagine an aspect of Soviet life that was not reflected in the work of Vsevolod Tarasevich (1919-1998). He shot photo reports from all across the country, with portraits of ordinary people, from miners to collective farmers. Although his pictures largely chimed with what Soviet propaganda wanted to see in the newspapers, his enduring legacy is true to life. 

World War II 

When the photographer was barely 20 years old, he served on the Eastern Front of WWII as a correspondent for the TASS news agency. He photographed trenches and frontline battles, producing images full of grit and vitality. Among the most famous of this period are his pictures of the besieged Leningrad, taken, as he himself recalled, on an old Leica (a type of Soviet camera). Although the censors did not allow depictions of the real horrors of the war and the blockade, he felt compelled to document what was really happening in the city. Tarasevich was also one of the first to photograph the former tsarist palaces outside Leningrad (St Petersburg) destroyed by the Germans

Soldiers in the trenches on the Leningrad Front before an offensive, Sept. 1, 1941

A girl stacks blank shells at a Leningrad factory, 1942

Soldiers from Colonel Shcheglov’s division fight the enemy on the outskirts of Gatchina, Leningrad Region, January 1944

Residents of the besieged Leningrad clear snow from Liteyny Avenue, 1942

Residents of the besieged Leningrad take water from a broken pipe on an icy street, January 1942

"War has come to Leningrad." The shelling of Dostoevsky Street, 1941

"The Road of Life". Horses pull grain across Lake Ladoga. Leningrad Region, December 1941

Post-war peace

Tarasevich's peacetime work stands in stark contrast to his war series. Smiling faces, joyful pioneers, the simple pleasures of a peaceful life...

Birth, 1950s

Pioneer drummer, 1950s

At the ice-rink, 1950s

May Day demonstration on Red Square, 1954

Komsomol member, 1950s

Children's writer Korney Chukovsky with young readers, 1957

The pride of the USSR

The Virgin Lands campaign to develop agriculture was a priority for the Soviet authorities. Tarasevich traveled all over the country, photographing people of various professions: collective farmers, miners, builders and many others. A separate photo report was devoted to geologists — one of the most fashionable and prestigious post-war professions. 

Collective farmer Zhenya Aleksandrova at harvest time

Welder at the Kakhovska construction site

Combine harvester driver, 1957

Through-cut works in Altai, late 1950s – early 1960s

Geologist

Driving an all-terrain vehicle

Installation of the All-Union Industrial Exhibition in Moscow, 1950s

Construction of the Kakhovskaya hydroelectric power station

"We’re making rockets, and we're ahead of anyone else on the planet!"

In the 1960s, Tarasevich actively documented the work of engineers, design bureaus, universities and laboratories. 

Blueprints

The Institute of Macromolecular Compounds under the USSR Academy of Sciences

Installation of the "Mirabelle" bubble chamber at the Institute of High Energy Physics in Protvino, Moscow Region, 1970s

Blueprints

In a chemistry lab

From the "Duel” series: physicist Vsevolod Balashov

Advertising

The extent of Tarasevich's creative and professional range can be glimpsed from his advertising photography. 

Children's goods

Modeling women's clothing

Modeling women's clothing against the backdrop of the arch of the General Staff building in Leningrad, 1960s

Scenes from Soviet life

Tarasevich is considered the most romantic of Soviet post-war photographers. His treatment of chiaroscuro and unexpected angles and compositions create the impression of truly “being there”.

Soviet café

Pioneer unit

Tourists in Vladimir, Russia’s ancient capital, 200 km from Moscow

Waiting for a plane at Vnukovo Airport

Harvesting

In the pigpen

Pedestrians

Nevsky Prospekt in Leningrad

"Friendship of Peoples". Students in Moscow

Perestroika and a new country

The photographer captured both perestroika and the collapse of the USSR. And although a totally transformed country now loomed through his lens, he concerned himself with the same subjects, from hi-tech to scenes of urban life.

Kirovsky plant, 1986

Chess players, 1993

Newlyweds, 1995

At the bus stop, 1995

Summer café, 1995

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